HL Deb 09 December 2002 vol 642 cc28-41

4.10 p.m.

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Education and Skills (Baroness Ashton of Upholland)

My Lords, with the leave of the House, I shall now repeat a Statement made in another place by my right honourable friend the Secretary of State for Education and Skills. The Statement is as follows:

"In July, my right honourable friend the Chancellor announced the outcome of the 2002 spending review. He stated that education spending will increase by an average of 6 per cent a year in real terms over the three years beginning in April 2003.

"Following that announcement, my predecessor, the right honourable Member for Birmingham Yardley, published our agenda for change, Investment for Reform. This set out how we would match those extra resources with sustained reform to achieve our objectives of a world-class education and training system that meets the needs of individuals and the economy.

"I now want to tell the House more about these investment and reform plans. With the exception of higher education, about which an announcement will be made next January, I am today announcing the details of our three-year settlement for the whole education and skills sector. I begin with the early years.

"This Government remain of the view that a strong early start is vital to continued educational success. So, as the Chancellor announced in July, we will continue our substantial investment in the early years, including our Sure Start programme, and will fund a further expansion of 250,000 childcare places.

"Working together with my colleagues in other government departments, particularly in the Department of Health and the Department for Work and Pensions, we will continue to expand our Sure Start programme and to mainstream the approaches in those areas which we believe have been successful.

"As the Chancellor announced in July, expenditure on early years and childcare will rise from about £1 billion this year to some £1.5 billion in 2005–06. Next year, £300 million will be transferred to enable local authorities to provide universal nursery provision for three year-olds.

"I turn now to the subject of schools, which will form the majority of my Statement today. The reforms that I am announcing will provide a simpler, fairer system. Alongside those, we are seeking a continued drive to raise standards in every school in the country.

"Last week, my right honourable friend the Minister for Local Government and the Regions announced the outcome of the review of local authority funding. As he announced, the national average increase in overall funding for schools and local education authorities is 6.5 per cent. Moreover, every local authority will next year receive an increase in funding per pupil of at least 3.2 per cent.

"The new system provides every local authority with a basic entitlement per pupil, plus more money for authorities with significant deprivation or recruitment and retention difficulties. Our three-year funding announcement means that we are giving local authorities certainty about their budgets in future years, so they can in turn give schools indicative three-year budgets, and we expect them to do so. This will enable head teachers and governing bodies to plan and implement longer-term reforms.

"As my right honourable friend the Minister for Local Government and the Regions announced last Thursday, the Government are committed to allowing local authorities more freedom over the use of resources. Ring-fenced grants will form a reducing proportion of local spending.

"So, on top of the £4.3 billion increase by 2005–06 in local authority general education funding which we have already announced, substantial funds will be moved from central Department for Education and Skills spending to local authority spending. This will be an extra £500 million in 2003–04, and a further £800 million in 2005–06.

"That means that, by 2005–06, over 92 per cent of all schools funding will be allocated through local authorities in accordance with local priorities. Thus we will end the ring-fenced grants from my department for the following programmes: in 2003–04, grants for nursery education for three year-olds; funding for infant class sizes; the school improvement grant; school inclusion—pupil support; performance management; and induction for newly qualified teachers.

"In 2004–05, in addition, we will do the same with grants or: special educational needs; study support; `Golden Hello' payments; advanced skills teachers; school support staff; drugs education; and teacher sabbaticals. We shall also focus grants for the national literacy and numeracy strategies and the key stage 3 national strategy.

"The substantial increases in local authority funding that I have set out will enable them to take over the delivery of these important programmes in ways that meet local needs. We shall of course closely monitor the effects of these changes.

"From 2005–06, we are also reforming the system for rewarding those good, experienced teachers who pass the performance 'threshold'. The money for teachers who pass the threshold will be devolved to the schools budget. In the New Year, we shall announce further measures to strengthen performance management in schools and cut associated bureaucracy. We shall also discuss with all stakeholders measures to ensure that the allocation of the money meets the cost of the threshold payments made by schools.

"However, we will continue with ring-fenced funding to provide national drive in some key areas. Three key grants will contribute to this aim The first is the leadership incentive grant with £175 million a year for each of the next three years. We will provide £125,000 to each of 1,400 secondary schools in the inner cities and in challenging circumstances beyond. This money is being provided because it is clear that a good head teacher and leadership team is the key to raising expectations and achievement in schools. This grant will support them.

"This money will be used in a variety of ways; for example, including strengthening poorly performing departments, helping strong departments to help other schools, buying in specialist advice on leadership, or working together with other schools to provide leadership training. And, particularly in the weakest schools, the money can be used to change the leadership of the school.

"One purpose of this money is to encourage local schools to behave in a more collaborative fashion, and it will be for local schools to decide how best to use the money to strengthen their leadership teams. But I will reserve powers to ensure that the weakest schools make effective use of the money.

"The second is the school standards grant, which will provide £800 million in 2003–04 rising to £875 million by 2005–06. This money will be paid direct to schools and is intended to drive forward reform of the school workforce. It will allow more and better trained teaching assistants to be employed to help the school team to work together more effectively. As we made clear in July, our substantial extra investment in the school standards grant must be matched by a commitment from unions and employers to a restructured teaching profession and a reformed school workforce—more flexible, more diverse and more focused on raising standards. We are making good progress towards an agreement, but the resources will not be released until a satisfactory agreement is reached.

"Thirdly, the standards fund, which will provide about £1.5 billion in each of the next three years, will enable schools to galvanise reform on standards, behaviour and choice. In 2003–04, this will allow us to support the following programmes, among others: key stage 3 strategy, £120 million from DfES in 2003–04; ethnic minority achievement, £80 million; music services, £60 million; Excellence in Cities and Excellence Clusters, £290 million; and school support staff and training, £170 million.

"For specialist schools, we will, as I announced a couple of weeks ago, provide sufficient funding to enable every secondary school that meets the required standard to become a specialist school. And it will provide support for primary literacy and numeracy. We are determined to build on the outstanding improvements that our primary schools have made since 1998.

"The national literacy and numeracy strategies have transformed standards, but we know that there is much more to be done to achieve the ambitious targets that we have set. We will therefore continue to provide funding and support focused on those schools that are underperforming in comparison to similar schools.

"Schools will have the freedom to spend their standards fund budget on any purpose provided that they deliver the improvements in standards, behaviour and choice that we need. We have already given the details to local authorities and we are looking for significant improvements in outcomes.

"I am also today publishing details of the capital funding that schools will get to improve and modernise schools buildings. A typical secondary school will get £75,000 of devolved capital funding next year, rising to £87,000 by 2005–06.

"This is part of a total investment in school buildings that, including Private Finance Initiative credits, will rise from £3 billion in the current year to £3.8 billion in 2003–04, £4.5 billion in 2004–05 and over £5 billion by 2005–06.

"Though this represents a seven-fold increase on capital spending since 1996–97, it remains true that the condition of too many school buildings has suffered decades of underinvestment. The extra resources which I am announcing today do mark very substantial extra resources to provide clean, modern, secure places for children to learn.

"I have today announced a real terms increase in school funding of over 7 per cent from 2002–03 to 2003–04, which will be followed by annual real terms increases of more than 4 per cent and 5 per cent, a total over the three years of the spending review of over 17 per cent in real terms. This means an average real terms increase in revenue funding per pupil of over £1,000, from some £2,840 to £3,850 in the 10 years between 1996–97 to 2005–06.

"Finally, I turn to further education and skills. The importance of this area cannot be overstated: developing the skills of our people is critical to improving our productivity, and therefore to the economic and social future of this country.

"We have to transform the performance of the learning and skills sector. We need to make it far more responsive to the needs of learners, employers and communities. We need to raise the quality of the sector and increase the achievement of those studying and learning in the sector.

"The document I published last month, Success for All, sets out our work on the further education reform strategy, and our challenge to the further education sector.

"In all this, we will work closely with the Department of Trade and Industry to co-ordinate the work of the departments more effectively.

"We are investing to match our ambition. I have already announced £1.2 billion for reforms to further education at the Association of Colleges' conference on 19th November. This forms part of the Learning and Skills Council's budget which I announced last week, which will increase by £1.4 billion, reaching a total of £9.2 billion by 2005–06. This means an increase on total spending on skills from £8.6 billion in 2002–03 to over £10 billion in 2005–06. This represents a real terms increase over the spending review period of almost 12 per cent.

"As the Chancellor made clear in his Pre-Budget Statement a fortnight ago, at a time when we face economic uncertainty it is more important than ever that we continue to invest and reform to drive up the skills of our people and improve our productivity as a nation.

"The very substantial investment in education and skills funding, which I have announced today, is a necessary but not a sufficient condition for raising standards in our schools and colleges, tackling the attainment gap and creating a world-class system of education and training at all ages.

"These will be achieved only if, in addition to investing, we also reform our schools and colleges so that they genuinely meet the aspirations of every child. That will be the ultimate test of our success at the end of this spending review period.

"I am confident that, with the help of all those millions of people throughout our country who are committed to our educational success, we will pass that test".

My Lords, that concludes the Statement.

4.24 p.m

Baroness Seccombe

My Lords, I thank the Minister for repeating the Statement. In the past few days my noble friend Lady Blatch skilfully exposed the attempts by the Chancellor on 27th November to give an impression that spending on education would increase by £45 billion by 2006. We now know that the actual figure is to be £15 billion. Let us hope that our ailing economy can sustain increased spending even on that scale.

Before she replies on LEA points, will the Minister say nothing about cash for higher education in 2003–04? Can she not say what percentage of the £9 billion funding gap identified by UK universities she hopes to fill? Can she confirm that top-up fees have been ruled out, as stated by the Prime Minister?

I turn to nursery education. Previous ring-fenced payments for nursery children are now to be subsumed in general grant funding. Can the Minister give a categorical assurance to the House that money still will be provided to each local authority to pay for the actual number of three and four year-olds in their areas, as Ministers pledged in the past? Will she publish a table showing a hypothecated element paid for nursery education for each LEA? If she does not agree to do that, many will fear that the Government are quietly abandoning their commitment to fund fully-fledged nursery education for every child.

I turn to schools. Has the noble Baroness seen the widespread concern expressed by local authorities about the settlement this year? The LGA has commented that whereas in the past elements in the overall school grant were weighted according to established local spending needs, from 2003–04 they are set by ministerial judgment. Is not that jargon for politics taking the place of need? Is not that why so much money in the settlement has been channelled away from authorities in the South, which serve their children well, to incompetent and high-spending Labour councils facing elections next year?

We broadly welcome any move that leaves more money to local discretion and reduces central control. So, we welcome the fact that Ministers are dropping the running of 12 ring-fenced grants by the DfES. Can the Minister tell the House how many civil servant posts will be saved in the DfES as a result of those changes? Can she assure the House that in the event of any regional assemblies being set up, those assemblies will not have the power to ring fence money in that way?

Among the central initiatives being pruned is the much vaunted literacy and numeracy strategy. Does that mean that the Government accept some of the recent criticisms of the defects of that strategy? If not, why is spending being reduced at a time when figures still show desperately worrying levels among young children of an inability to read and add up? Is not that shuffle from centralising gimmicks back to local funding making up policy on the hoof? Can the Minister say more about the so-called leadership incentive grant, a title which in itself suggests Ministers still think they know more about how to run a school than governors and head teachers?

There is talk in the Statement of up to £175 million per year being used to buy services from other schools or alternatively to sell them. Will that involve Ministers investing taxpayers' money in companies being set up by schools? Can the Minister assure the House that reserve powers will not be used to force schools to buy services from companies backed with public money?

The Statement boasts of over £5 billion of PFI credits in 2005–06. Will that count against totals for public borrowing? Can the Minister gibe the House some idea of the scale of the extra money that will be needed to make up the value of pension funds for teachers and other LEA staff, which the Chancellor has done so much to erode? Can she tell the House the cost to schools and local authorities of the I per cent national insurance charge coming in next April?

Perhaps I may also ask about plans for teachers' pay. The Statement refers to £875 million going to schools only in the event of, a commitment from unions and employers to a restructured teaching profession and a reformed school workforce". We welcome any sensible reforms, but does that not sound suspiciously like the strategy that gave us the tire dispute? Will the Minister assure us that the Government will not intervene behind the scenes in talks between unions and employers? Does she accept that withholding money from schools would not be a proper weapon in an industrial dispute?

What is meant by the claim that: Schools will have the freedom to spend their standards fund budget on any purpose providing they deliver the improvements … that we need"? What kind of freedom is that? It will take time for each local authority and school to read behind the words of the Statement to find out exactly what is meant for them. When the Government say that they will decentralise, we hope that they mean what they say, but the lesson of the past few years is that centralising gimmicks do not work—as the genuine decentralisation of the previous Government in the great success of grant-maintained schools so obviously did. We have had six wasted years, far too much bureaucratic intervention and far too little trust in teachers and schools. Trust would be more precious to schools than any amount of money.

4.31 p.m.

Baroness Walmsley

My Lords, I thank the Minister for repeating the Statement. We on these Benches always welcome any extra money for education, and the basic entitlement principle is certainly to be welcomed. The new system is slightly clearer. 'The distribution data are more up-to-date, relevant and reliable. However, ambiguity remains—a point to which I shall return in a moment.

Long-term planning is always a good idea. When people know how much is coming in future years, they can spend money more sensibly. So three-year budgeting should help schools, but how can it if they do not know how much they will have to pay staff? Again, I shall return to that point.

How much of the 7 per cent increase will come from PFI capital? Can the Minister confirm whether LEAs will now have to pay the full liability for meeting the needs of the teachers' pension fund?

However, despite that welcome, the Government have not given up their addiction to spin. When we read the figures carefully it is clear that, when additional liabilities and reductions in grant are taken into account, next year investment in education will be lower than was announced in the Comprehensive Spending Review by not £250 million but £400 million. What undertakings can the Minister give about the remaining years—the second and third years? Will there be further cuts? If so, how will that affect schools' ability to plan?

As the money will not be coming from the Government, will the Minister confirm that the level of spending assumed by Government will require an increase in council tax of about 9 per cent? Council tax payers will have to pay for that increase in educational spending. That is a bit like me announcing to my children that their pocket money is to be increased, but that they must go to the man down the road to get the extra money.

Although we welcome the devolving of distribution of funding to local authorities, too much is still provided through centrally managed initiatives, such as the leadership incentive grant and the specialist schools programme. The Government have missed an opportunity to drop the entrance fee for specialist school status. However, we should have liked one grant to be ring-fenced. The transfer of threshold management and performance related pay removes any pretence that that scheme can deliver a fair deal for teachers. Can the Minister continue to guarantee that performance related pay will be paid on the basis of actual performance rather than pressure on local budgets? If not, she must expect a great deal of unhappiness among teachers, as the Government will have broken a key pledge made to them when the scheme was introduced.

The standards fund grants are still dependent on matching funding, have bureaucratic, political strings attached and are still distributed in crude tranches. Do the Government have any plans to improve accessibility to that money? There will be new cliff edges as a result of the new system. For example, for all area-based initiatives, such as Excellence in Cities, there is a risk that neighbouring schools with similar needs will receive very different levels of funding. The leadership incentive grant will be available to Excellence in Cities schools and schools chosen on the basis of low attainment at GCSE and free school meals. That is a fudge. Vulnerable schools outside Excellence in Cities areas will have every right to resent schools in easier circumstances inside those areas receiving larger grants.

Unfortunately, the Statement represents too many missed opportunities. The Government have not taken the opportunity to ally financial and academic years. They have not brought forward the School Teachers' Review Body pay recommendations, so that schools and LEAs will know what the numbers will mean. How can they plan for three years unless they know that? The Government's explanation of why they dropped three years' work on an activity-led formula is wholly unconvincing.

The Minister mentioned the commitment to a restructured teaching profession and negotiations with unions and employers. As the noble Baroness, Lady Seccombe, mentioned, the Government's recent track record on negotiation with public servants is not a happy one. How will the Government ensure that the negotiations will result in a more, rather than less, motivated teaching workforce?

4.36 p.m.

Baroness Massey of Darwen

My Lords—

Noble Lords


Baroness Ashton of Upholland

My Lords, I am grateful to both noble Baronesses for giving me a plethora of questions to attempt to answer; I shall certainly try to do so. I hope that, buried beneath their comments, was a welcome for some of my comments on our commitment to schools and education.

I shall not dwell on my question and answer session with the noble Baroness, Lady Blatch, about the Chancellor's words; I have already dealt with that as far as I can. It is perfectly clear in my mind; I feel that the noble Baroness, Lady Blatch, would say the same, were she here. Equally, I shall say little about higher education. I appreciate that noble Lords are keen for me to say as much as possible about that but, as my right honourable friends the Prime Minister and the Secretary of State have made clear, we shall be making a major announcement in January, which we shall of course debate in your Lordships' House. My right honourable friend the Prime Minister was clear in what he said and we of course support his words.

The noble Baroness, Lady Seccombe, mentioned nursery grants and ensuring that the Government would not stop paying for all three year-olds. That commitment is absolutely firm. We are giving that money to local authorities. They will be able to continue with their own plans. It is an aspiration that some of them may be able to achieve universal support for three year-olds in nursery education earlier, but we are in no way abandoning nursery education for our three and four year-olds. I am sure that all noble Lords would agree that that is an important beginning for our youngest children.

I do not know what are the consequences for civil servants. We are proud of our civil servants in the Department for Education and Skills. Personally, I should hate to lose any of them, but we have made clear that part of this announcement is about ensuring that money is devolved from the DfES to local education authorities and schools—something for which noble Lords have argued for some time.

We do not accept that the literacy and numeracy strategy is flawed; we accept that we need to do more to support schools that are not achieving with their children what other schools are achieving in similar circumstances. That is an important part of our strategy.

Both noble Baronesses asked about the leadership incentive grant. As I said in the Statement, we shall be using it to support 1,400 schools, and I mentioned the need for schools to work closely together. We want to ensure that there is the opportunity to provide the one thing that we know can make a difference—that, as noble Lords will be aware, has transformed schools—quality of leadership. We therefore want to give support to the head teachers and leadership team of schools that face challenging circumstances.

Reserved powers will not be used to force schools to buy services from school companies; that is not their purpose. For pensions, there will be a separate grant to cover employer contributions. I did not want to announce that and, therefore, possibly be accused of putting it in as a separate figure. I hope that that will answer the points raised by the noble Baronesses, Lady Walmsley and Lady Seccombe.

It is not a question of the Government interfering in the negotiations between the unions and the employers, but I believe that what we have said about changes in the workforce and the strategy that we have for that is right: it is important that we have the right kind of workforce. In your Lordships' House, we have talked for some time about the need to ensure that we engage with adults who can contribute and have contributed in schools. We must ensure that teachers can teach and that there are adults available to support them in that role by taking on some of the other tasks and challenges that teachers face.

I shall answer the question that the noble Baroness, Lady Walmsley, asked: I think that a three-year budget is important for long-term planning. I cannot answer her question about the 7 per cent PFI capital. It was an interesting question, and I shall write to the noble Baroness with specific details about that, unless something wings its way to me in the mean time.

We have created a £3 million partnership fund for specialist schools. The fund is to support schools that are having difficulty in finding the £50,000. The fund will provide the full amount or part of the amount. We will look for a demonstration that schools have contributed to improvement, growth and development in the community, which is part of what we are trying to achieve with specialist school status, and have sought to involve people in that work, including the securing of financial contributions. The money is there to address the specific points that the noble Baroness raised.

Substantial increases in education funding for local authorities have already been provided for in the spending review. I said in the Statement that there would be £4.3 billion more by 2005–06 before any transfer of DfES grant to local authorities. On top of that, the department is transferring £500 million from grant in 2003–04 and 2004–05 and a total of £1,340 million from grant to local authorities in 2005–06. By 2005–06, schools and LEAs will get £5.5 billion more than in 2002–03. To me, if to nobody else, that sounds like an increase.

There is no change in the position on the threshold for 2003–04 to 2004–05. Every teacher will be covered in a per capita payment. In 2005–06, we will transfer that payment into local funding, as part of the general commitment to reduce ring-fencing. However, on the basis of rising budgets, we are confident that, with our partners, we can find ways to ensure that resources are available. I hope that that addresses that point for the noble Baroness, Lady Walmsley. I will, of course, write to noble Lords on any points that I have failed to address.

4.43 p.m.

Baroness Massey of Darwen

My Lords, I apologise for leaping to my feet so enthusiastically—and prematurely.

The increased funding set out in the Statement is welcome. I have just come from a meeting of a school governing body, at which we assessed the performance of the head. I want to raise two issues that have been covered already, as I want to talk more about them: one is about leadership and the other is about nursery education.

Leadership is crucial to the formation of a good school, particularly if the school works in difficult circumstances. Can my noble friend say a little about the role of OFSTED and other inspectors and the role of governing bodies in developing and ensuring good leadership?

Guaranteed nursery education is also crucial. I thought that the Government had made their policy on it absolutely clear. How will schools, particularly in the early years, link with other bodies in local inter-sectoral initiatives to support children such as the Department of Health's children's trusts?

Baroness Ashton of Upholland

My Lords, OFSTED plays an important role in determining how effective the leadership of the school is. I believe that I have visited the school to which my noble friend referred. I was very impressed by the quality of leadership from the head teacher. I hesitate to mention the chair of the governing body because I believe that my noble friend is chair of the governing body; I might be accused of sucking up to her, which I would not wish to be seen to do. The role of the governing body is essential, as noble Lords will be aware.

I am grateful to my noble friend for saying that we have made our position on nursery education clear. Collaborative working—of which children's trusts and children's centres are a good example—is part of the reason why I have been created a joint Minister for the Department for Education and Skills and the Department for Work and Pensions. As we develop our budgets, we want to ensure that local authorities can use the moneys appropriately—particularly in the early years—to support our children. That is part of the reason for the reduction of ring-fencing. Children's trusts, which are being developed by my honourable friend Jacqui Smith at the Department of Health, are designed to develop the process of bringing health, education and social services together to support children and families. It is important that our budgets reflect that.

Lord Jenkin of Roding

My Lords, I refer to the latter part of the Statement, in which the noble Baroness mentioned the learning and skills councils. It was my privilege to visit, a few days ago, the Building Crafts College. It is based in Stratford in east London and provides expert training in woodwork and masonry to a fair number of young people and some adult returners at a high standard of skill.

It is a small college, and it was strongly represented to me that the college is deeply apprehensive that, under the new arrangements for the learning and skills councils and for funding that the noble Baroness announced, it will be difficult for small, specialist colleges to get a fair crack of the whip. I hope that the noble Baroness will utter some reassuring words that I could draw to the attention of that college.

Baroness Ashton of Upholland

My Lords, with great pleasure, I say to the noble Lord, Lord Jenkin of Roding, that I can offer him reassurance. We would have failed in our endeavours if, as a result of what we are trying to do, small, specialist colleges offering high-quality training to students were to suffer in any way. That is not what we are trying to achieve—quite the opposite. I hope that the noble Lord will take that message back. If he chooses to write to me, I shall pass the matter on to my appropriate colleague.

Lord Winston

My Lords, the Select Committee on Science and Technology, which I once had the honour of chairing, conducted an inquiry into science in schools. We found a severe deficiency in science training, particularly between the ages of 11 and 16, which meant that children left school less scientifically literate and numerate than they should have been.

One of the issues for the committee was that, whereas Shakespeare and Chaucer do not change from year to year, science is a continually moving target. What plans are there in the new funding arrangements for better personal career development for teachers of science and for such teachers to teach the subjects that they are qualified to teach, rather than teaching all sciences as a blanket subject, as happens too often?

Baroness Ashton of Upholland

My Lords, I could not agree more with the noble Lord, Lord Winston, about the importance of science. We have discussed that in your Lordships' House on several occasions.

In the key stage 3 strategy, which covers children aged from 11 to 14, we have focused on science to allow for the changing nature of science—precisely the reason that the noble Lord gave. We must acquaint our children and young people with the current issues and ensure that they understand how quickly scientific progress is being made. That is also the reason why we have extended "Science Year"—now called "Planet Science"—for a further year. It will do several things. It will recruit ambassadors for science, particularly young, bright, motivating people who can go into schools and help young people to learn. They can encourage them not only to take up science but to continue with it, which is important. It will also help with training materials, through work with partners who can provide the expertise that we need in the training of teachers.

I cannot give the noble Lord, Lord Winston, specific figures. We have announced them, and I am happy to set them out in detail for him. I hope that he will consider that they are good news.

Baroness Carnegy of Lour

My Lords, I understood the Minister early in her Statement to say that secondary schools would receive grants of £125,000 for a number of purposes, one of which could be a change in the leadership of the school. She also said that the Government wanted to ensure that weaker schools used the grant in the best possible way. What does that mean? Within the present law, how can £125,000 be used to change the leadership of a school? Does it mean that the Government will ensure that in a weak school they obtain the right leadership? That is important because, to my Scottish soul, it is a strange statement for a Minister to make. I am not aware of exactly how things work in schools in England, but I would like to know what is intended.

Furthermore, I do not believe that the Minister answered the excellent question from the Liberal Democrat Front Bench. How much of the enormous sum of money which the Government are taking from taxpayers to give to schools will come from council tax payers?

Baroness Ashton of Upholland

My Lords, the money I have announced today is coming from taxpayers centrally. It is for local authorities to determine what they do in addition. I apologies if I did not answer the question directly, but the money I am focusing on specifically today is that available for local education authorities and for schools.

The noble Baroness, as always, picks up on the detail. I said that we are providing £125,000 for the 1,400 schools in the inner cities and in challenging circumstances beyond the inner cities. I said, too, that in the weaker schools the money can be used to change the leadership of the school. The focus is on the word "change". Within what I am describing—and we want schools to develop the system for themselves—is the possibility perhaps to buy in the additional support they need in order to support the leadership. We want them to be able, perhaps, to recruit and to use the money in challenging circumstances where additional resources might be needed to attract people of the right calibre to the school. We want them to be able to work in collaboration with other schools, perhaps with more joint working. In other words, we want to make changes by enabling them to say everything from, "We need new leadership in this school and we have the resources to obtain it", to, "We need support and development mechanisms and the additional people coming forward who will help us".

Lord Haskel

My Lords, the Minister spoke about making further education and skills more responsive to the needs of learners, employers and communities. In my 30 years' experience as an employer, I often found those in conflict. The question which always arose was: to whom does the training belong? Does it belong to the person being trained, who will want to do what he is interested in, or does it belong to the employer who will want him to gain the skills he needs for his business?

The answer to that—and it may be an answer 10 the point made by the noble Lord, Lord Jenkin—is to extend the training and broaden it out. As well as teaching specific skills, we should also teach managing people, productivity through lean manufacturing, basic costing, taking responsibility, ethics and all the other subjects which are increasingly important as we become a service economy. Will the additional funds be directed towards such subjects?

Baroness Ashton of Upholland

My Lords, the noble Lord, Lord Haskel, makes an important point about the value of training. I answer his initial point by saying that this is a partnership. The role we want to have, and the role of the Learning and Skills Council, is to try and identify the needs of the individual in terms of skills training and also, as all good projects have done for a long time, to focus on the skills required by local employers. The routes into employment are fundamental and important.

As regards the specifics of the training, I fear that my colleagues at the department who have ministerial responsibility might not be too happy if I were to give a categorical assurance of what is to be included. I hope the noble Lord will be satisfied if, in response to his comments, which I fully accept, about the need to help train people in a variety of different ways, not least in terms of managerial responsibility, I say that I shall obtain an appropriate and proper answer from the Minister responsible.

Lord Brooke of Sutton Mandeville

My Lords, I understand the higher education moratorium and the reasons for it, hut there is one question that the Minister could answer. As of now, in each year, a residual amount, which she has not been able to announce today, will be set aside for higher education. By what average percentage per annum will that residual amount rise in real terms over the three years beginning April 2003?

Baroness Ashton of Upholland

My Lords, I am sorry. I hate being unable to answer the noble Lord's question in full. However, I cannot prejudge what will be announced in January. Although the noble Lord may believe that the residual amount is a simple calculation, there are within it issues to be discussed about exactly how the funding is to be used. No doubt negotiations and discussions will be required with others outside the department.

I apologise that I cannot answer the question now. If I can obtain a satisfactory answer, I shall write to the noble Lord and place a copy in the Library.